By HENRY MORABANG
BRAZILIAN surfer and World Surfing League longboard champion Phil Rajzman says he won’t be feeling any pressure going into the 2017 season as he focuses on winning a third world title in Papua New Guinea.
The reigning world champion took part in the Australia Open for the first time this week before heading to Papua New Guinea for the PNG Kumul World Longboard Championships set for March 18-28 at Tupira Surf Club, Bogia, Madang.
It will be Rajzman’s first event of the year as he looks to sharpen up before his chase for back-to-back world titles starts on Saturday.
“It’s a good opportunity to practice before the first division event in Papua New Guinea,” Rajzman said.
“It’s a good warm-up and a chance to see the other competitors, what they are doing and how it will be judged.
“The judgment will probably be the same here to there so it’s important to be here and to be prepared to perform later this week.”
It is the first time Rajzman has been on the Gold Coast since 2008, a trip that followed his first world title win in 2007.
But Rajzman is no stranger to Australia.
“His mother Michelle, stepfather Bernard and brother Nicholas all live in Western Australia and he enjoys any chance he gets to experience the surf Down Under.
Rajzman credited his recent world title win with his dedication to perfecting the classic surfing style that has made its way back into longboarding.
The World Surfing League changed its criteria in 2013 from judging waves evenly between what it considers classic and radical surfing to just classic.
“It’s completely different equipment and how you read the waves so it’s something new for me and I’m loving it,” Rajzman said.
Reigning women’s champion Tory Gildkerson says she cannot wait to come to PNG.
“From what I’ve heard and seen so far about PNG, it looks like a beautiful country with a lot of culture and history,” she said.
“The ocean looks beautiful and is a paradise of good waves and clear blue water.
The 23-year-old WSL longboard champion from San Clemente, California, told The National: “I am so excited about having a new destination for our world championship event.
“It will be very nice to see a new place and give back to the local community.”
When she is not competing, she is travelling the world seeing new places and surfing different waves.
By HENRY MORABANG